Skip to main content
Organization News

Composite consortium exploring smart bridges through RevV

A lightweight bridge deck system in Morgan County required less time to install than a traditional concrete bridge, reducing energy costs and on-site construction costs. Credit: IACMI

Building on deep partnerships and a long history in the advanced materials ecosystem in Tennessee, Composite Applications Group, or CAG, is strengthening the infrastructure of a rural community while also building a test case for rebuilding critical infrastructure with longer-lasting composite materials.

In 2021, CAG, a consortium of companies that provide composite solutions, led a public-private project to build a high-tech bridge in Morgan County, Tennessee, that is equipped with a fiber-reinforced polymer composite material bridge deck embedded with fiber optic sensors. It replaced a damaged decades-old concrete crossing which, like thousands of low-volume rural bridges across the state and nation, was rated structurally deficient and outdated.

The composite materials provide a lightweight, easy-to-install, and long-lasting surface, while the sensors monitor the composite deck system over time to give critical performance and safety data. Enabled by the state of Tennessee-funded RevV program, CAG drew on resources from IACMI – The Composites Institute and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“This bridge allows us to build a business case for being a composite bridge deck provider,” said Jeff McCay, president and founder of CAG, based in Chattanooga. “The data that is being collected and analyzed at UT will give transportation departments the information they need to make engineering decisions. The data shows that composites work better than conventional construction.”

Since the Morgan County bridge opened, McCay has received interest from several regional departments of transportation. He hopes CAG will be able to continue outfitting rural areas with new bridges.

“This project has kind of opened our eyes to the need in the rural communities. A conventional bridge needs repairs every 15-20 years, but composites provide a solution that will last a community a lifetime.”

Read the full news release from UT Knoxville.